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Gig workers would get unemployment benefits under Senate coronavirus stimulus deal – Getaka

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The Senate agreed on a bipartisan coronavirus stimulus package early Wednesday morning. There still has to be a vote on H.R. 748, the legislative vehicle for the “CARES Act – Coronavirus Phase III.” A vote could be as early as this afternoon.

Here are several highlights in the package, provided by Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY. More details are expected as the measure is finalized.

GOOD NEWS FOR GIG WORKERS

Schumer said in an early-morning letter to his colleagues:

“The extended UI program in this agreement increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy.

“The structural reforms we have made would allow workers to get unemployment insurance quickly and would allow furloughed workers to stay on as employees, so that when, God willing, this crisis ends, they can quickly resume work with their employer and businesses can start running again.”

MARSHALL PLAN FOR HOSPITALS

More from Schumer:

“Our second major priority was a Marshall Plan for our health care system so that it can provide needed treatment during this pandemic. I am happy to report that the final agreement will include more than $150 billion for this plan. We cannot begin to heal our economy until we can turn the tide against the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of our negotiations, the amount of funding for hospitals and medical facilities has greatly — greatly — increased.

“We now have agreement to inject $100 billion into our hospitals and health system, $1 billion for the Indian Health Service, and billions more into critical investments such as personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, an increase of the Strategic National Stockpile, medical research into COVID-19 and Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis.

“State, local, and tribal governments that are propping up local health systems on their own were originally left out of the Republican bill entirely. As a result of our negotiations, state and local governments will now get $150 billion, with $8 billion set aside for tribal governments.”

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Startup Civvl recruits cash-strapped gig workers to help landlords evict tenants

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A startup is enlisting cash-strapped gig workers to help landlords evict tenants who can’t make rent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Civvl has been posting Craigslist ads in cities across the country, including Denver, Los Angeles and Nashville, boasting pay as high as $125 an hour to individuals willing to work as process servers and promising that “there is plenty of work due to the dismal economy.”

“Unemployment is at a record high and many cannot or simply are not paying rent and mortgages,” the posting, which was first spotted by Vice, reads. “We are being contracted by frustrated property owners and banks to secure foreclosed residential properties.”

The listing calls for workers who are a minimum of 18 years old, and brags that it provides a “true flexible schedule” and a “minimal background check.” The average Civvl worker, the post says, completes six jobs a day.

Other open positions include clean out crews, eviction crews and independent contractors.

Civvl’s website featured a fake quote from The New York Times, Vice reported, claiming that “too many people stopped paying rent and mortgages thinking they would not be evicted.”

Civvl couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Gig workers, independent contractors could see delayed benefit payments – News – poconorecord.com

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A surge in suspicious new claims filed late last week will stall payments to first-time applicants to a federal unemployment program for gig workers and independent contractors.

The unexplained increase in claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is believed to be part of an ongoing fraud scheme, Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said during a media update Monday.

The payout delay will not impact Pennsylvanians who are receiving payments through the other unemployment program programs. PUA beneficiaries with prior approved open claims also are not impacted.

On Thursday and Friday the number of new PUA claims filed in the state jumped to more than 20,000, four times higher than the average number of weekly new claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic began in the state.

Most of the new claims were from out-of-state, one of the hallmarks of the PUA fraud, which prompted officials to flag them for further investigation, Oleksiak said.

The department has met with its third-party vendor and authorities to develop stronger anti-fraud and identification verification methods, but there is no timeline for how long it will delay new claim payments, Oleksiak said.

“We will do it as quickly and effectively as possible,” he added. “We know the PUA program is a lifeline for many families, and we want these Pennsylvanians to be able to access support as quickly as possible during this time of hardship.”

More Coverage:: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: State approved for $2.8B loan for trust fund

Individuals who applied for PUA benefits for the first time on Thursday and Friday are affected by the delay, but officials have not ruled out double checking claims filed earlier in the week.

Unemployment officials suspect that criminals targeted the PUA program because it lacks safeguards that are in place for the state’s regular unemployment program.

PUA is the federally funded program created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that pays unemployment benefits to individuals who otherwise don’t qualify for state benefits because they are self-employed.

Claimants self-certify that they are unemployed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus, but they do not go through the same checks to prove they are qualified as claimants in the traditional unemployment program, Oleksiak said.

The biggest difference in the federal and the state-run unemployment programs involves the back-dating of claims, which was done to speed up delivery of benefits, said Susan Dickinson, director of the Office of Unemployment Benefits Policy.

The federal government ordered states to backdate everyone to the last day they worked without first verifying the information, which increased the potential for fraud, Dickinson said.

Pennsylvania is among other states where scammers began filing PUA claims under stolen identities using personal information taken through previous data breaches that occurred outside of state government. The scam started shortly after the PUA program opened.

Pennsylvania and other states implemented security measures to help identify and prevent payout for fraudulent claims including shutting down the automatic backdating in the PUA system.

The security measures reduced the overall number of PUA claims filed, until last week, Oleksiak said.

Federal and state authorities last month charged 33 people, including eight inmates in Pennsylvania prisons and Allegheny County jail with COVID-19 benefit fraud.

Pennsylvania officials recently found the names of an additional 10,000 state prison inmates on Pennsylvania’s unemployment rolls, though it’s unclear whether those people were aware that jobless claims had been filed on their behalf. The fraud was uncovered by U.S. postal inspectors, who noticed a large volume of mail arriving at homes that are abandoned or being sold.

California authorities announced they have arrested 44 people in Beverly Hills so far this month who were allegedly attempting to intercept fraudulently obtained debit cards obtained by using stolen identities. Many of those arrested were from out-of-state.

Also Monday, Oleksiak said Pennsylvania has already paid $1.5 billion of the $2.8 billion it received in federal Lost Wage Assistance program. The federal government is expected soon to announced an end-date for claims to be filed.

The program funded with disaster relief money through the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $300 a week additional in unemployment compensation to eligible beneficiaries.

The temporary program closed on Sept. 5, but beneficiaries may still be eligible for a lump sum payment of up to six weeks or $1,800.

More Information: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Not all eligible will get $300 federal benefit

Were you scammed?

Pennsylvanians who believe their identity was stolen and used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits can report the theft. Pennsylvanians who have received unemployment benefits they did not apply for should not use the funds and instead follow the directions on returning them.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Gig workers, independent contractors could see delayed benefit payments

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Socso awareness amongst gig workers still low – New Straits Times

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